Red Meat Linked to Diabetes Risk

A study has shown a link between red meat intake and risk of diabetes.
A study has shown a link between red meat intake and risk of diabetes.

Eating red meat is now linked to a higher risk of diabetes, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine. The study showed that eating red meat increased the chances one had of winding up with the most common form of diabetes, type 2.

Diabetes is a disease that affects 25.8 million children and adults in the United States—8.3% of the population—have diabetes, according to diabetes.org. It occurs when a person’s glucose, or blood sugar, levels are too high. In type 2 diabetes, the body either doesn’t produce insulin, or ignores the presence of insulin altogether. Insulin is a hormone that is necessary in converting glucose into energy that the body’s cells can use.

When the body is unable to process the glucose it takes in, health ailments such as mental problems, high blood pressure, foot and skin complications, as well as trouble with vision and hearing can develop. New data revealed that the number of American’s going blind every year has increased by twenty percent, largely accredited to a growing diabetes problem.

An Pan, a scientist at the University of Singapore, conducted the study by following 150,000 individuals who had already participated in previous diet studies for Harvard University.

Following up with the subjects four years after they had completed their previous study, Pan asked them about their diets. This was done again four years after the first check in.

The results revealed that people who ate less or no red meat were 14 percent less likely to have diabetes by the time of the final check in than those who had continued to eat regular to high amounts of red meat in their diets.

Those who increased their red meat intake throughout the check ins were an astonishing 50 percent more likely to have diabetes by the time of the final check in. This increase could be as slight as a half a serving per day, showcasing the detrimental link between red meat, the choice meat of many in our society, can have on our health.

Summarizing her results, An Pan and the rest of the authors of the study stated that “Our results confirm the robustness of the association between red meat and T2DM (Type 2 Diabetes) and add further evidence that limiting red meat consumption over time confers benefits for T2DM prevention.”

A further link was found in the study between processed meats and diabetes. This link was greater than the link between other red meats and diabetes.

Commentating on the findings, William J. Evans, vice president of head muscle metabolism at GlaxoSmithKline, and  an adjunct professor in the geriatrics program at the Duke University Medical Center gave  “a recommendation to consume less red meat may help to reduce the epidemic of T2DM. However, the overwhelming preponderance of molecular, cellular, clinical and epidemiological evidence suggests that public health messages should be directed toward the consumption of high-quality protein that is low in total and saturated fat. … These public health recommendations should include cuts of red meat that are also low in fat, along with fish, poultry and low-fat dairy products. It is not the type of protein (or meat) that is the problem: it is the type of fat.”

Adding some vegetables and subtracting some red meat from your summer cookout may be an easy way to erase your likelihood of type 2 diabetes. Although not the traditional rout for many families when cooking out, it is a sacrifice that may be worth making.

An important note to make is that this was an observational study, and no direct causation can be drawn by the results. They simply show that there could be a link between red meat intake and diabetes risk.

Follow me on Twitter @CharlieGille

The Guardian Express

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